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Curated research library of TV news clips regarding the NSA, its oversight and privacy issues, 2009-2014

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Primary curation & research: Robin Chin, Internet Archive TV News Researcher; using TV News Archive service.

Speakers

Jane Mayer
Staff Writer for The New Yorker
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: But according to the rules Drake thought he had to follow, whatever he found had to safeguard Americans' privacy. He started by digging around inside the deepest reaches of the NSA's secret R&D programs. Mayer: And he stumbles into sort of a skunkworks, and he discovers that there was actually a program before 9/11 that could have, as they said, eavesdropped on the entire world. It's called ThinThread. Narrator: ThinThread, a program that could capture and sort massive amounts of phone and email data, was the brainchild of veteran crypto-mathematician Bill Binney. Binney: The whole idea was to build networks around the world of everybody and who they communicate with. Then you could isolate all the groups of terrorists. Once you could do that, you could use that metadata to select the information from all those tens of terabytes going by.
Jane Mayer
Staff Writer for The New Yorker
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: But to make sure the NSA would not spy on U.S. citizens, Binney and the other analysts had built in privacy protections. Mayer: It anonymizes who it's listening in on, unless there's a court warrant that makes the identity of that person clear. Drake: If you knew that it was U.S. person-related, it would be automatically encrypted. That was part of the design of ThinThread. Wiebe: It had a data privacy section. That was working very well, protecting citizens and innocent people by encrypting the data and not allowing analysts to look at it even. Narrator: Drake was ecstatic. The experimental program could monitor massive amounts of data, but the encryption would protect the privacy of individual Americans. He took it upstairs to the top deck.
Jack Goldsmith
Office of Legal Counsel, 2003-2005
KQED 05/13/2014
Goldsmith: The program was an example of the administration going it alone in secret based on inadequate legal reasoning and flawed legal opinions. Narrator: Goldsmith discovered that as part of the program, the government had been tracking data about the emails of tens of millions of Americans. Gellman: He said, "You can't justify the email collection. It is, on its face, a clear violation of the 4th Amendment and perhaps the 1st Amendment as well." Narrator: Addington was furious that Goldsmith would raise questions about "The Program," and he let him know. Goldsmith: He was very tough in making his arguments. He was very sarcastic and aggressive against people with whom he disagreed, and dismissive oftentimes. And he acted with the implicit blessing of the vice president. So all of these things made him a very, very forceful presence.
Peter Baker
White House Correspondent and Newspaper Reporter, The New York Times
KQED 05/13/2014
Baker: Goldsmith tells him, "We're going to pull back our endorsement of the legality of this program." And Addington roars at him and says, "If you do that, the blood of 100,000 people killed in the next attack will be on your head." Narrator: For Cheney, Addington, Gonzales, Hayden and others, the personal stakes at this moment were extremely high. Gellman: It was a felony to conduct this kind of surveillance in the United States. And everyone was relying on the shield that they were trying to create of having the president order it explicitly and have the attorney general sign off and say, "It's lawful." And as soon as the Justice Department starts to say, "We're not so sure this is lawful," there is a great deal of concern and anxiety.
Peter Baker
White House Correspondent and Newspaper Reporter, The New York Times
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: Goldsmith's boss, deputy attorney general James Comey, delivered the news to John Ashcroft: parts of the program appeared to be illegal. Baker: They go to the attorney general, John Ashcroft. They say, "We don't think this is legal. We think we need to get this changed. We need to stop what's going on because we don't have a solid foundation to go on." Narrator: Ashcroft was supposed to sign a reauthorization of the entire program every 45 days, and for two and a half years, he had. But now he balked. Gellman: Ashcroft gives Comey his verbal assurance that he is not going to go along with this program and that he is going to demand changes or he won't sign. Narrator: Then just hours later, Attorney General Ashcroft collapsed, suffering from severe pancreatitis.
Barton Gellman
Journalist, contributing to the Washington Post
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: James Comey was now the acting Attorney General. Gellman: Comey notifies the White House formally that he's not going to sign, and we're now within 48 hours of expiration of this program. Narrator: With the deadline looming inside the White House, Alberto Gonzales, chief of staff Andrew Card and David Addington headed to Attorney General Ashcroft's hospital room. Gonzales: We went to the West Wing, picked up David, who had the authorization. We get to the hospital and I tell David to stay back because there was history between David and the Attorney General and I didn't want to aggravate the Attorney General needlessly. Gellman: Janet Ashcroft, the Attorney General's wife, is very alarmed. She calls up Ashcroft's chief of staff and says, "Oh my God, they're coming over.
Jack Goldsmith
Office of Legal Counsel, 2003-2006
KQED 05/13/2014
Card: I said nothing other than, "Sorry you're feeling bad." And Judge Gonzales said, "We have brought the document. Here is the document." Goldsmith: Attorney General Ashcroft kind of lifted himself. He arose from the bed, lifted himself up and gave about a two- or three-minute speech or talk addressed to Gonzales and Card, in which he basically... I can't get into the details, but he showed enormous, unbelievable clarity about what the issues were and what was going on. And he explained why he also would not approve the program. And he read them a bit of the riot act, and then he said... At the end of all this, he said, "In any event, I'm not the Attorney General now. Jim Comey is," because Jim Comey was the acting Attorney General. And with that extraordinary performance-- and it was just amazing, one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life, because he went from seeming,
Jack Goldsmith
Office of Legal Counsel, 2003-2007
KQED 05/13/2014
Goldsmtih: And with that extraordinary performance-- and it was just amazing, one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life, because he went from seeming, you know, near death to having this moment, this amazing moment of clarity-- and he just again receded into the bed, and I really worried at that point that he was going to expire. And I mean, it just... it looked like he gave it the last of his energy. Gonzales: And so finally, when he repeats again he's no longer the attorney general and is finished talking, Andy and I just said, "Thank you, we'll raise this with the deputy attorney general," and we left. Goldsmith: It was an intense, unbelievable scene. And Gonzales and Card quickly left, and that was the end of it.
Barton Gellman
Journalist, contributing to the Washington Post
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: In the wake of the hospital confrontation, at the White House, Cheney insisted the president should act on his own: reauthorize all of the program even though the Justice Department said part of it was illegal. Gellman: Cheney and David Addington draft a new order. And this time, it has one subtle difference. Instead of having a signature page for the Attorney General, "I certify the lawfulness of this order," there's a new signature for the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who does not have the same legal authority. Gonzales: I satisfied myself that there was sufficient legal authority to move forward. And I felt that the President was not a lawyer, and that it was my job, if I felt comfortable that it was in fact lawful, to provide that signature. I did it because I wanted to protect the President. That's why I signed that document.
Michael Hayden
Former Director of the NSA and Director of the CIA
KQED 05/13/2014
Narrator: But the White House wondered, "Would General Hayden go out on a legal limb and continue the program?" Hayden: David Addington calls me and says, "Are you willing to do this without the signature of the Attorney General? With the signature of White House counsel Al Gonzales and authorization from the president?" And I thought and I said, "Yes." Narrator: Hayden and Gonzales say their willingness was informed by something that happened just before the Addington call. (explosions) Audio of TV reports: In Madrid this morning, more than 190 people were killed... After at least ten simultaneous bomb blasts... Narrator: It was one of the worst terrorist attacks since September 11. Series of bomb attacks at three train stations during... Hayden: Given that starkness of the al Qaeda threat and given the ambiguity of the situation, I thought the correct operational, legal and ethical decision was, "All right, we'll do this one more time
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